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Homeowners can do their own investigation and brush up on architectural history.For example, an American bungalow house with a concrete block foundation could be from homemade cast concrete blocks, rusticated to look like stone.The style of buildings and their details provide vital clues to their age and much more besides.Style tells us about the mind-set of the people who commissioned and designed the building, and their resources. We can usually be pretty clear about the date that a particular style evolved or arrived in a particular country.Detectives look at everything, every piece, before forming theories about how they fit together.Artists practice careful observation as they draw and compose.
A trained investigator can date a house by studying its wood, plaster, mortar, and paint.Is it a practical vernacular building, erected without the aid of an architect? And what does that aesthetic tell us about the age from which it sprang, and the patrons who bankrolled it? But the point at which styles stopped being used is altogether vaguer, if it exists at all.This brief guide to the styles of British and Irish architecture holds some clues. Old-fashioned provincial builders would go on using styles, sometimes for centuries after our standard works on architectural history tell us they were out of date.In the early 1900s, molded concrete blocks were popularized by Harmon S.Palmer's patented invention of a hand-operated molding machine.